Things are about to get rather messy at the Red Bank Public Library. A $1.6 million renovation that could take up to a year is set to begin as soon as next week.

But here’s a possible consolation for some patrons: the library has entered the Wi-Fi era.

“We’re now a Wi-Fi hotspot,” says library director Deborah Griffin-Sadel. So users with wireless-enabled laptops can access the facility’s databases and Internet link from anywhere within the building. “It’s cheaper than Starbucks,” Griffin-Sadel says. Free, that is.

But can you surf on the library’s dime from the benches outside, the ones with the nice view of the Navesink? Griffin-Sadel wasn’t sure. The system just went in a few days ago, and nobody had tried it as of late yesterday, she said.

If so, the benches could prove to be the most popular seats at the facility in coming months. The first remodeling since the 1960s looks to be fairly disruptive, particularly for adults.

The children’s room stock has has temporarily been moved upstairs from its basement location. That meant putting a fair amount of the non-children’s collection into storage (a task handled by Boy Scout Troops 67 & 8). The most popular books, CDs, DVDs and videos will be available, but patrons in search of other materials may find they’re not available.

And let’s face it, it may not be the most comfortable place to work or relax. This is from a statement posted late yesterday at the library website:

While we will try to minimize inconvenience to the public, there will be times when we will be forced to close for short periods of time. Rest rooms and air conditioning may not be available throughout much of the project. There will be noise, dust and activity from construction workers.

The finished job, though, sounds like something to look forward to. Plans call for the installation of an elevator, a complete overhaul of the children’s room, and new handicapped restrooms. The former Eisner family living room, now off-limits to the public, will be opened as home to the library’s New Jersey collection. Griffin-Sadel says the space, which will retain its original features, “will be one of the most beautiful public rooms in Red Bank.”


The library plans to digitize the earliest years of the Red Bank Register and an historic photo collection, thanks to a $2,000 grant procured through the Red Bank Rotary Club.

“Two grand will get us the photographs and about 20 years of the Register,” says Griffin-Sadel. “As money comes in, we’ll add to it.” She expects the cost of digitizing the entire Register archive at $20,000 to $30,000.

The Register launched as a weekly in June, 1878, and ceased operations in November, 1991, by which time it was a daily based in Shrewsbury.

An outside contractor will transfer the images from microfilm. There still won’t be an index, but the electronic version will have a word-search function that Griffin-Sadel is “pretty accurate.”